Top 30 sites for freelancers
Every site you'll ever need! check it out →

Creating and Using a Style Guide

Creating and Using a Style Guide

Creating a style guide takes time up front, but can save a great deal of time. In this article, we’ll review some best practices relating to creating style guides for your projects, whether they be for you or for your clients.

A style guide is a reference document that includes rules and suggestions for writing style and visual presentation. A style guide can specify which option to use when several options exist, and they include items that are specific to the company to help you stay on brand.

It’s also a great tool tool to give to clients. It will help them maintain the look and feel and keep things consistent, which translates to a better user experience, and ultimately fulfills a project’s goals more effectively.

As with any audience, it’s important to understand who will use the guide, what the goals are for the guide, and where and how it might be accessed. Knowing these things will help you produce a better document.

There are two types of rules that come from this book. Negotiable and Non-Negotiable. You want to make the information in the guide easy to understand so that the people who use it will easily understand how to maintain continuity and consistency.

What goes in a Style Guide:

A style guide can be written and enforced for all types of media. You can create one specifically for print, web, or even writing style guides, which a lot of blogs do for guest-posts.

For brand identity:

  • Font guide – for typestyle usage
  • Logo use – size, coloration and proper placement
  • Color scheme – primary color uses that include specific tone information
  • Web site guide – for layouts, headings, image placement, etc.
  • Templates and Standard Documents – everyday documents for organizational use (letterhead, business cards, fax cover sheet, etc.)

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 9.33.20 AM

Adobe has one of the best style guides I’ve ever seen. They take their branding very seriously. I encourage you to download their PDF and have a look, as it is a prime example of a style guide.

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 9.46.37 AM


Keep in mind as you’re planning and developing a style guide for a project of yours, it can be an evolving document. You don’t need to include everything on the first draft. Add items as questions arise and decisions are made.

Have you been responsible for enforcing Brand guidelines? What are some of the best brand guides you’ve seen? Please share them with our community.


Written by Steve

Steve is a freelance web designer, technologist, educator, Adobe Certified Expert and friend from the San Francisco bay area. He is a incessant seeker of knowledge and tirelessly thinks about how he can make things better. You can learn more about him on his website, or by following him on Twitter: @scribblesteve